The transient load fluctuations on the runner blades of prototype hydraulic turbines during load variations are one of the main causes of fatigue and eventual structural failure. A clear understanding of the dynamic loads on the runner blades is required to detect the source of the fluctuations. In this paper, an experimental investigation of vortex rope formation and mitigation in a prototype Kaplan turbine, namely, Porjus U9, is carried out. Synchronized unsteady pressure and strain measurements were performed on a runner blade during steady-state and load variation under off-cam condition. The normalized pressure fluctuation during load variations remained approximately within ±0.2 for all the pressure transducers installed on the blade pressure side and is even slightly lower during the transient cycle. Higher pressure fluctuations were found on the blade suction side, approximately four times higher than that of on the pressure side. The synchronous and asynchronous components of the vortex rope were clearly observed at the low discharge operating point and transient cycles. The spectral analysis of the pressure signals showed that the synchronous component appears before the asynchronous component during the load reduction, and it lasts longer during the load increase. These frequencies slightly change during the load variation. In addition, the results proved that the strain fluctuation component on the runner blade arises from the synchronous component of the vortex rope at low discharge while the asynchronous component influence is negligible.